Since I highlighted President Obama’s lowlights for both 2009 and 2010, why should 2011 be any different? There is, of course, plenty to write about and I shall only scratch the surface. If I have omitted anything, I have no doubt that readers will draw it to my attention. Rather than list examples one by one, I shall group them together in three categories — disagreeable, out of touch, and vain.
In January, following the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, President Obama won high praise for a speech he delivered at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He was praised for this passage in particular:
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.
Well, it’s a shame that President Obama has made little effort to follow his own advice this year. Three months after the Tucson speech, Obama delivered another speech at George Washington University concerning fiscal policy. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was invited to sit in the front row. Although not mentioning his name, Obama blasted Ryan’s fiscal plan in a setting where he could not publicly defend himself:
The vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. Ronald Reagan’s own budget director said there’s nothing “serious” or “courageous” about this plan. There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don’t think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. That’s not a vision of America I know.
While it is true that David Stockman criticized the Ryan Plan, he also said Obama’s attempt to reduce the deficit entirely on the top 2% of the population wouldn’t work either. Yet President Obama managed to omit that small but crucial detail. But why let demagoguery be impeded by fact?
During the debt ceiling debate this summer, Obama told House Majority Leader Eric Cantor not to call his bluff, said he couldn’t guarantee that Social Security checks would be mailed out, and railed against tax breaks for purchase of corporate jets despite the fact they were in the Stimulus Bill that he signed into law. By October, Obama was telling Americans that the Republican fiscal plan consisted of “dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance.”
President Obama hardly confined his demagoguery to domestic matters. When Congress demanded to be consulted about American involvement in Libya, he questioned their patriotism. At the very same press conference where Obama ranted about corporate jets he also asserted that “no one should want to defend” Muammar Qaddafi and that Qaddafi had become a “cause célèbre” for some members of Congress. This from a man who said during the 2008 campaign he would never question the patriotism of others. It would seem that President Obama believes he is exempt from his own edicts. In other words, do as I say not as I do.
Out of Touch
President Obama has also been out of touch with the American people and in one instance was out of touch as to whether he was on American soil. During the APEC Summit last November, Obama spoke of meeting with world leaders “here in Asia.” Except he was in Hawaii at the time. You would think Obama would remember he was in the state in which he was born.
Then there times when he seemed to be trying out his best Jimmy Carter impersonation whether he was telling the nation to “eat its peas” or asserting that America had gone “soft” and had become “lazy.” All that was missing was the cardigan sweater.
Now in the case of the “soft” and “lazy” remarks, it could be said that Obama was commenting on America’s competitive edge and its pursuit of foreign investment rather than the diligence of Americans. Yet it is difficult to take Obama’s critique seriously when he made a point of postponing a decision on approving the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada until after the 2012 election to appease environmentalists. Republicans have since forced Obama to make a decision about Keystone’s fate within 60 days as part of the payroll tax cut extension.
There were also times when President Obama could have used a touch of modesty. It might have spared him the embarrassment of talking through “God Save The Queen” at Buckingham Palace. But as long as Obama can tell his supporters with a straight face, “If you love me, you got to help me pass this bill,” pats himself on the back for doing more for Israel’s security than any other administration in history while claiming he’s accomplished more in the first two years of his Presidency than anyone “with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln,” then one can only conclude that modesty just isn’t in the man’s repertoire.
Hopefully at this time one year from now we will await someone else to be sworn in as President of the United States, if for no other reason than I won’t have to write out this damn list every year.
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